Fenerbahçe faces tough task to advance

Fenerbahçe faces tough task to advance

Fenerbahçe faces tough task to advance

Fenerbahçe will have a tough task in hand to advance to the quarterfinals of the Europa League when it hosts Sevilla on March 16 in the second leg.

On paper, a 2-0 deficit to the competition’s record six-time winner Sevilla appears daunting. Only one club has ever come from further behind in the second leg of a Europa League tie, and it is a decade since Fenerbahçe last graced the quarterfinals of a UEFA competition. And yet, the Turkish outfit is certainly not out of its tie against Sevilla.

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli admitted the visiting side was the better team for much of the first leg in Spain, and with his side flirting with La Liga relegation, an early goal for the host in Istanbul could really knock Sevilla’s fragile confidence.

“If we play as we did in the first half in our stadium, we can score goals,” warned Fenerbahçe boss Jorge Jesus.

The game will mark the fifth meeting between Fenerbahçe and Sevilla. The host has won just one of the previous matchups, while the visiting side has won the other three.

Also, on March 16, Sivasspor will host Fiorentina in the return leg of a 1-0 loss in the Conference League.

Fiorentina’s European campaign looked over before it had really begun when a 3-0 loss at Başakşehir in September left the Italians languishing on a point from their first two games. However, rather than signaling the end of one chapter, it proved the beginning of a new one: The team returns to Türkiye, having won seven out of seven since.

But Sivasspor has not given up.

“It will be a different match in Sivas,” warned the Turkish side’s coach, Rıza Çalımbay.

In Istanbul, Başakşehir will have a slight advantage in its bid to advance to the Conference League quarterfinals following a 1-1 draw ay Gent in the first leg.

Elsewhere, Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal will not down tools in the Europa League to help its bid to win its first Premier League title in 19 years.

Arteta’s Premier League leader sits five points clear of second-placed Manchester City with 11 games left.

Bowing out of the Europa League could aid the Gunners’ hopes of holding onto the lead in the title race, as it would allow more recovery and preparation time.

But Arteta does not share that view because the Arsenal boss is trying to restore a winning culture to a club mired in mediocrity for much of the past two decades.

Arsenal hosts Sporting Lisbon in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 clash, with the tie delicately balanced after a 2-2 draw in Portugal last week.

“Our priority is the two competitions,” Arteta said.

“The best way to prepare for any competition is to win the previous match and have the confidence and the proper emotion to approach the next game.”